How to face your fears

By Shweta Chhabra, Clinical Psychologist

Fear is an emotion, just like happiness, sadness or anger; it can be innate or learned. Innate fears can be the fear of heights, animals etc. There can be numerous instances where a person can be afraid, however, reactions would be different and will dependent on personal experiences. 

Fear is a normal reaction of our bodies to certain situations in order to warn us to be careful and honestly, it is not always bad.

When way too much importance has been given to our fears, it takes a negative toll on our mental wellbeing that is when it should be really taken care of. Although that’s easier said than done, isn’t it? 

Why not make it a little bit easier and take a look at these effective measures to face our fears.

  • Accept your fear

Being aware of your own fear is one thing, and accepting it is a totally different thing. 

For example, “John couldn’t give his speech after knowing that about 50 people are watching him, he justified it by stating it was just stage fear. However, many similar instances have been concluded in the same way.” 

Here John is aware of his fear of public speaking but a lack of acceptance is what holding him back.

Instead of ignoring the fear, simple acceptance can do wonders and give strength in order to face and fight back the fear. 

Ignoring the fear will actually make it scarier and more uncontrollable.

  • Learn more about your fear and imagine the worst

You must have heard the phrase “what’s the worst that can happen?” It is actually a great way to learn by preparing for the worst that can happen. 

This helps you in learning and defining what you exactly are afraid of. Imagining the worst may help you in recognizing and evaluating all the aspects where a situation can turn into a nightmare, and in fact may help you to face that situation.

  • Give yourself some time

After learning the basics about your fear, it’s always a good strategy to give you some time to think through the possible outcomes. 

Again, knowing something is one thing and preparing for it is totally different and very difficult thing. Sometimes, after imagining the worst, anxiety may occur and may lead to the panic attack. 

In order to avoid such situations, it’s always best to take time out and breathe through the panic. Having water in small sips will help you being hydrated, and will help you in fighting the fear. 

  • Find evidence against your fear

Once the milestone of possible anxiety has been passed, it is now time to try and find the evidence that is actually against the fear. 

In order to find it, think whether the fear is based on the facts or on mere feelings. 

For example, the possibility of getting stuck in the elevator or being hijacked by a terrorist when you board a plane is very rare, and is not based on a actual facts but on feelings only.

After understanding the pattern and the occurrence of such fears it is easier to challenge them and fight with them.

  • Relax yourself

Once the fear has been successfully challenged, it is now time to relax and what better way to relax is there than to blow out your worries. 

Mindful breathing might do wonders in such situations. Accept the situation you’re in, be mindful of where and what situation you are in. 

Take a deep breath in and let all your worries out as you let your breath out. Focus on here and now and mindfully accept and face your fears.

  • Discuss your fear

Discussing your fears is a very healthy strategy to keep the entire negative stigma out of your life. 

Being in an era where it can be a taboo to be afraid of something and anything, discussing your fears can be tough. However, in order to face the fear, you need to be able to discuss them.

Talk to your friend, family member, loved one or find someone who can listen to you with empathy and without any judgment. Remember, emotions are very tricky, in order to unlearn one fear, we don’t want any other fear to emerge.

  • Find your safe space

Safe space can be defined as a place where you can be yourself without any fear of being judged. 

Finding a safe space is very important in order to face your fears. Safe space can be anything or anywhere where you can be yourself, be it with your loved one or be it at your apartment focusing on your hobby. 

The simple idea here is to be able to distract yourself from the negatives and focusing on the bright side of life.

  • Practice these techniques

In order to unlearn a fear, it’s very important to practice the techniques that have been discussed so far. 

Remember the phrase “Practice makes a man perfect”? Yes, it actually does. Practicing will help you keep a hold onto yourself and will not let fear to have a hold on you. 

The fear will start to fade away with time and you’ll be more confident and content with yourself.

  • Reward yourself

It is always a good idea to reward yourself when you achieve something which at one point felt impossible to achieve. 

Whatever you like or desire, it’s time to pamper yourself with all those things. A chocolate bar, a new outfit or a spa treatment – whatever works for you.

If you successfully face a fear, you deserve a reward. It not only helps in boosting up your confidence but also helps you to keep practicing to face your fears on a regular basis. 

Steps to overcome fear

Following these simple strategies can help you face your fear. 

To recap:

  1. Accept your fear
  2. Learn more about your fear and imagine the worst
  3. Give yourself some time
  4. Find evidence against your fear
  5. Relax yourself
  6. Discuss your fear
  7. Find your safe space
  8. Practice these techniques
  9. Reward yourself

Things can’t change overnight, but taking a proactive approach to fear can help you build your strength and conquer it. 

If you find this process too difficult, it is a good idea to reach out to a professional. A trained therapist can help you work through these steps and support you non-judgementally.

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